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Teen drunken driving

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Stricter DWI and teen driving laws together with higher gas prices have curbed teen drunken driving.

Last year slightly more than 10 percent of high school students 16 and older said they drove while intoxicated within the previous month. That compares to about 22 percent 20 years ago, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It attributed the sharp drop to stricter DWI laws in general but also to licensing laws that restrict teen driving based on their age, experience, time of day and even number of passengers. Pressure on retailers to monitor alcohol sales is also a factor. Schools are encouraging safer driving with DWI re-enactments portraying the dangers of drunken driving.

Officials said the recession with youth unemployment and high gas prices have also kept teens off the road.

One disturbing statistic was the number of students participating in binge drinking. Eighty-five percent of teens who said they drove after drinking had also engaged in binge drinking.

Progress is being made, but efforts must be sustained to reach the nearly 1 million high school students who consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle last year.

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